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Seminar explores Rock’s global entrepreneurial potential

Start-ups based in Gibraltar have the potential to go ‘global from day one’, a panel of business experts said at an American Chamber of Commerce and Start-Up Grind event yesterday.
The discussion on whether Gibraltar could become a mini Silicion Valley was led by a group of American and Gibraltarian panellists who agreed the Rock has a vibrant entrepreneurial future.
The one-hour debate comes off the back of the AmCham 2017 Trade Mission, which saw more than 30 American and international companies visit Gibraltar to explore and expand opportunities.
“You can be global from day one in a place like this which lives on an intersection of continents and mixes of people,” said venture capitalist Javier Saade.
“It is similar to the United States… and because you’re small that gives you agility and that agility gives you an advantage on places like the US.”
“For me to do an innovation in the US I have to check ten thousand boxes, here I can get the meeting in a week. That is the advantage.”
On the panel discussion included Cove CEO Adam Segal, Founder of Women’s Leadership Live Stacey Schieffelin, partner at Fenway Summer Ventures Javier Saade, portfolio manager at Atlantic Capital Ashish Gianani, and partner at Isola’s law firm Joey Garcia.
Moderating the event was Georgeta Dragoiu, CEO of communications firm MDC Strategies.
Mr Saade was firm in his approach that public/private partnership programmes boost entrepreneurship.
“There are two things I would say to the great public servants and leaders in Gibraltar,” Mr Saade said.
“One is that you should think of innovative ways, for example one was to guarantee loans, so that guarantee alone helps banks put capital into the market.”
“On the investment side these entrepreneurial ecosystems are critical to the start-up community because they create coalitions just by putting these smart, ambitious people together.”
He added that the Rock has to find a way to attract young people and start-ups despite real estate being at such a premium.
“I would say to think about public/private partnerships and helping the entrepreneurial eco-system physical spaces take root,” Mr Saade said.
On upcoming changes to the business landscape, Mr Garcia discussed how Gibraltar will create a regime for the regulation of businesses within Fintech, a financial industry that applies technology to improve financial activities.
“That’s not to say Gibraltar is going to come and regulate these new types of currencies or technologies,” Mr Garcia said.
“What we are looking at effectively is the operators and the intermediaries in that space to make sure that they are properly well run businesses.”
“We are applying principles that have always existed in the financial services space and applying them to these new technologies.”
He told how the interest in Fintech locally has been “astronomical”, with one of the advantages being the small size of Gibraltar.
“Being able to have a working group of interactive directors with the government, with the regulator and having a regulator that you can sit round a table with the clients is unheard of in large jurisdictions,” Mr Garcia said.
“We are seeing a tremendous amount of opportunities here. We talk about it as a bit of a holy trinity.”
“We are proposing to offer legal certainty, regulatory certainty and tax certainty.”
“Those are three extremely attractive elements for any business opening or moving into a Fintech environment.”
The change in the local entrepreneurial climate was discussed with the overall consensus being that businesses should aim to work together and grow a stronger community.
“People are looking to collaborate and talk to each other more,” Mr Hashish said.
“That is a change culturally because in the past it was more about access to what you had that the other guy didn’t so that you owned prime real estate on Main Street.”
“People collaborate more as they have realised in this open information age start-ups offer bigger opportunities we you do.”
Mr Segal and Mrs Schieffelin told the conference how they started their businesses and how they aim to build connections on the Rock.
Through its trade mission AmCham Gibraltar has strived to provide opportunities for local and American businesses to work with each other.

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